The Importance of Language Access During the COVID-19 Pandemic

During this difficult time, one small source of comfort is knowing that we are all in this together. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting communities from around the world and it is important that we work across borders to beat this pandemic. Knowledge is playing an indisputably important role in overcoming the health and financial challenges that have arisen because of COVID-19. In order to share the knowledge that will help us progress past COVID-19, it is more pressing than ever before that we break down language barriers. This is why. 

To Enact Proper Safety Measures

Our current landscape is changing rapidly right now and it is important that both individuals and business owners have access to the latest safety information and regulations in their native languages. In regions where many languages are spoken, this is especially necessary. For example, in Orange County, CA, confusion occurred when new ordinances regarding social distancing and business regulations were announced. A poorly worded message was partly to blame for the mass confusion, but a language barrier was another reason there was a lack of understanding across the Orange County community.

Orange County officials are attempting to remedy the situation by introducing updates in more languages, but the initial confusion caused fear and concern. For everyone to do their part in maintaining safety regulations and slow the spread of COVID-19, access to properly translated materials is vital. As the United States in general has a population that speaks many languages, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a Language Action Plan that they recommend for scenarios like this. The plan suggests providing access to vital information in 19 different languages in order to properly confront a crisis.

To Make Progress Together

Alongside the countless individuals working to slow the spread of COVID-19, there are many researchers aiming to find a vaccine or medication for treatment. As always, it is important that medical researchers have access to the latest advancements. The translation of medical research is of the utmost importance for increasing our ability to work towards vaccines and treatments more efficiently. 

Typically, English is considered the go-to language for the medical community, but increased language access to COVID-19 research could help us make progress quicker. With proper translation, researchers can share updates on the outcomes of social distancing, expected health care costs, disease trends, best treatments and care plans, and risk factors. Patients will also require access to translated materials such as pharmaceutical packaging and instructions for use. 

To Strengthen Communities

It is clear now, more than ever before, how important a strong sense of community is. If members of a community do not feel like they have access to the resources they need and are not being assisted, this could damage the strength of a community. Working together can only happen if we all feel united and valued. Proper language access during the COVID-19 pandemic is an important step towards strengthening the bond of a community.

Homemade Offices: Terra’s Tips for a Successful Remote Workplace

The rapid international expansion of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) significantly impacted the everyday lives of individuals  across the globe. Many governments established a quarantine or public restrictions in order to control the spread and circulation of the virus. As a result, daily routines, industrial processes, productive activities and transit were affected globally.

In our current climate, many companies and public entities are carrying out their duties to contain the virus by switching to a home-office model (with the exception of critical activities, like the job of health care providers). A lot of employees and employers are new to this scenario. However, at Terra Translations we are experts in working-from-home, since we’ve operated daily under a 100 percent virtual basis for 20 years.

In an effort to collaborate with all those who are not used to working from home, we’ll offer some insight on best practices to consider. With an optimal organizational strategy, operating remotely won’t affect productivity nor efficient communication.

On the company’s end

To achieve successful development of the company operations, there are strategies that help the management team strengthen connectivity and communication among employees.

o   Use online tools

Every member of a team or company should be able to have quick access to the information needed to do their jobs remotely. Hence, online tools such as file sharing systems or work management platforms help organize the team’s tasks and access needed data anytime. Besides, some companies have their own management systems which administer daily operations, staff and information.

o   Communicate clearly and positively

Calls and video calls can replace meetings and maintain a successful corporate communication. But when addressing someone via instant messaging or email we must pay extra attention. As the other person is not listening to the tone of voice or seeing gestures, he or she can misunderstand the attitude of the message. Cultivating a polite and positive attitude in written messages keeps healthy work relationships.

o   Schedule but keep it flexible

The staff can benefit from fixed daily schedules to organize their work routine at home. But some employees —especially those who are taking care of kids and/or older adults— need flexibility to attend the needs of others at home. Promoting collaboration among coworkers will help support the tasks and provide breaks for those who need them most.

o   Share

Keep employees informed with institutional news, share reliable information and show that the company is there to support the staff. This will promote confidence and a sense of security. A safe, informed and calm environment will foster, also, a smooth daily workflow.

At home but at work

For employees not used to working from home, it can be challenging to adjust their routines. The first basic practice that impacts productivity and organization is the separation of the workplace. Ideally, there is a room in the house settled as a home office. This will contribute to keeping a distance between domestic and work-related issues. If this is not possible, to have an exclusive space, desk or table can be useful too.

Second, it’s important to establish a time schedule routine. Some remote workers prefer working under a flexible timetable, while others prefer fixed hours. Regardless, having an organized routine will help in setting limits to work time. That will impact on domestic and personal welfare.

Furthermore, there are other practices that improve remote work. For instance, keeping the workplace tidy and neat will increase the sense of comfort, along with using ergonomic chairs and furniture.

Also, self-care is a very important factor. For Terra’s CEO Marina Ilari, for example, “Getting dressed or combing your hair for work will make you feel better about yourself,” she suggests. As she sees it, although it’s a simple action, self-care supports self-esteem and, thus, staff’s wellbeing.

The challenges: health and family

As Terra’s team knows how to operate daily from home, every member has a tip to share. For example, for in-house editor Ivana Sabelli, we should never overlook the relationship between work and wellbeing. In that regard, she notes three aspects we must not forget: vision, focus, posture. “Scanning a far object for 30 seconds every 40 minutes is a way of taking care of your vision health,” she suggests. Also, there are techniques to apply even while editing. “Doing breathing exercises and stretching while working will improve relaxation and a sense of welfare,” she added.

On the other hand, one of the greatest challenges is to entertain children all day while working on a full-time schedule. Sometimes, kids demand attention, and to work in separate rooms is not possible. For those cases, our Senior Project Manager Cintia Sturla has some advice: “You can even get them involved in work, only for a few minutes. They can press a key or you can explain to them what you’re doing,” she suggests. When that doesn’t work, she admits she has worked wearing costumes (sometimes more than one at a time!) for her identical twins’ joy.

Operations Manager Manuela Lamas has also twins and double wit. For video calls, she always stays in a closed room, “But I hand some paper and colored pencils to my kids, so they can slip me love messages or drawings under the door,” she says. That way, children feel connected with their working parents while doing creative activities.

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All these actions, strategies and considerations show that there is plenty to set in motion on everybody’s end. An interconnected, ready-to-go and healthy environment —both for remote managers and their teams— will secure a successful operation even in such unexpected times.

Sharing is Caring: Using Webinars to Enrich Employees, Companies, and Industries

Keith Ferrazzi, an author and entrepreneur, once said, “Power today comes from sharing information, not withholding it.” We exist in a world that has become accustomed to instantaneous results – statistically significant data, applicable strategies and solutions, and most of all, relevant and accurate information. So much of what people do daily is connected to vehicles for information sharing. From push notifications on phones and watches to dinner recipes narrated by Alexa, rather than seeking out information, the expectation is that it be placed in everyone’s lap. What is one of the best ways to quickly share and receive information straight from an expert source with very little cost to all involved stakeholders? The webinar. With over 25 years of specialized experience in translation and localization in several fields including healthcare, video games, and education, Terra Translations has been purposefully seeking out opportunities to participate in web-based information sharing, specifically via webinars. 

On February 27th, thanks to the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), Colleen Beres, Director of Business Strategy, and Marina Ilari, CEO, of Terra Translations were able to execute a live webinar entitled “Nurturing a Remote Workforce: The Peaks, the Pits and Some Tips for Leveraging Global Talent”.

The goal of this live webinar was two-fold. First, to educate participants on how the world of employment and labor, as well as employee expectations, have evolved in the modern world. And second, how companies, regardless of industry, can leverage the power of a remote workforce to recruit top talent, reduce costs, and create a nimble and supportive corporate culture. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and it inspired the Terra Team to question who else could possibly benefit from this type of information. What are other companies doing to share their expertise with the world?

Before launching a webinar or any kind of web-based forum, there are some critical components to consider when developing content that will be engaging and impactful. First, know your audience. The translation industry is inherently diverse and global – that’s what makes it such a wonderful and unique environment for information sharing. Therefore, each participant will come to the table with different opinions, dilemmas, and governing regulations. It is vital that content be presented in a way that is adaptable and universal; it should allow viewers to comprehend an idea and customize it to their specific situation. Second, be sure to present content that is broadly relevant and relatable. The timing of Terra’s discussion was, unfortunately, very appropriate considering the current COVID-19 pandemic; leveraging a remote workforce is no longer a luxury, but a necessity as the world attempts to contain the spread of this virus. When strategizing the exact content to be shared, it is best to evaluate subjects that are top of mind and align with company and personal expertise – then take it two steps further and drill down to create value for the audience. 

As the world continues to get smaller through increased digital connection, professionals need to rely on one another to be challenged, stay curious, and inspire growth. This connection should be leveraged in ways that create learning opportunities instead of noise for the sake of being visible. What can you share with the world that will improve your industry and your peers? You can learn more about GALA and it’s incredible resource library by visiting https://www.gala-global.org/resources/videos-downloads

Terra solidifies top spot as a boutique translation company on the Slator 2020 LSPI

We are honored to announce that Terra has made the list of the Slator 2020 Language Service Provider Index (LSPI) as a boutique translation company. The annual index is a ranking of the world’s largest language service providers, translation agencies, localization providers, interpreting services providers, and language technology companies. Slator sense-checked the primarily self-reported LSPI data. This data is independently verified by Slator using publicly accessible sources such as annual reports. The LSPI is an important resource for language industry stakeholders such as vendors, buyers, advisors, consultants, and investors. It also provides language service providers insight into where they rank among competitors and colleagues. It is Slator’s mission to help the industry make sense of developing technologies, emerging trends, and funding news in our fast-changing marketplace.

As language service providers navigated the integration of machine learning with traditional translation tools, 2019 proved to be the year of transition and growth. In addition to “Super Agencies and Leaders” and “Challengers,” this year’s 2020 LSPI expanded to include a new group of “Boutique” translation companies. Overall, 2019 was a positive year for the industry, with double-digit growth for many language service providers.

What are the benefits of a boutique translation company?

There are a multitude of reasons for clients to select a boutique translation company for their translation and localization needs. One of the biggest benefits is the unmatched customer service. Because boutique agencies are smaller than larger firms, the client gets a dedicated team of experienced professionals. Providers truly get to know the clients and form genuine relationships. This allows for a more personalized and bespoke approach to translation projects. One-on-ones with expert talent is available to customers to ensure a successful outcome for every project.

At larger firms, a highly bureaucratic company structure slows down processes and decision making. For boutique firms such as Terra, we can work swiftly and nimbly across accounts, pivoting with the needs of our clients. The boutique structure allows the language service provider to accommodate the needs of the customer and provide them with a tailored solution quickly. This flexibility has proven invaluable and supports customer satisfaction.

Lastly, many boutique translation companies specialize in a specific language combination or industry. As the saying goes, Jack of all trades, master of none. Boutique agencies don’t attempt to be language generalists. Instead, boutique firms tend to become experts in a vertical or language combination therefore they thrive in their specialty. As specialists, boutique translation companies become true thought-leaders in their area of expertise.

translation-instructions-of-use-ifu

The Translation of Instructions for Use (IFU): A Breakdown 

Every member of the medical profession should first and foremost prioritize patient safety. One such way to be successful at protecting patient safety is to dedicate resources to the proper translation of “instructions for use” (IFU). Essentially, the term IFU refers to the patient labeling found on many prescription medicines and medical devices. The manufacturer of the drug develops the patient label. But the FDA (a United States government agency) is in charge of approving it. IFUs are especially important when a medication has complicated dosing instructions and the patient may need help using the product properly.

As we live in an increasingly global world, medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies will require assistance with the translation of IFUs into other languages. Quality translation not only improves patient safety, but helps get medical devices and medications approved for distribution throughout a variety of regions. 

Why IFUs Matter

From a consumer standpoint, IFUs are of the utmost importance. The information included in an IFU helps provide the proper use of a medication or device, as well as any necessary precautions. The FDA requires that medication guides, such as IFUs, come with certain medical products. Usually they do so when they’ve determined that: 

  • The consumer requires specific information to prevent serious adverse effects.
  • A patient has the right to be aware of serious side effects before deciding to use this product.
  • Proper usage of the product is essential to its effectiveness.

Medication guides, including IFUs, must be given to consumers each time the medication is dispensed. It is worth noting that not all medications will provide an IFU. If a consumer ever has questions about a medication, it is best that they consult a healthcare provider or pharmacist. 

Where Translation Helps

Now, looking from a business standpoint, European regulations can provide an example of the importance of translating IFUs. The translation of an IFU is necessary for sale in Europe. Medical products in Europe must have a CE Mark. This mark guarantees that the safety and authenticity of a product is verified and translated properly. 

A CE Mark allows a manufacturer to sell a product throughout the EU. In order to obtain that mark, all materials (such as an IFU) are translated into each of the 24 official languages of the European Union. In Europe in particular, all products must have a CE Mark which enables manufacturers and traders to commercialize them in the European Economic Area (EEA). 

The Future of IFUs

The standards for medical professionals and products evolves and adapts over time. The digital age is of course having an effect on patient safety regulations. Those who wish to market their products in the European Union should prepare for the emergence of the eIFU (electronic information for use) in 2020. The aim of the new eIFU requirements is to increase medical device safety and effectiveness by providing users with the most current information. An eIFU can include video and audio files which will make it easier to demonstrate how to operate and handle medical devices. eIFUs will allow companies to bring revisions or changes to the market faster. This extra content will require translation services to ensure all consumers can understand a video or audio file. 

New regulations will be in place in 2020 that medical device manufacturers in the European Union need to prepare for. Manufacturers should be prepping for the change now, including getting ahead on any translation needs.

translation memory

Translation Memory: How it Works and Why You Need It

In life, win-win scenarios can be hard to come by. But for translation professionals and their clients, the use of translation memory is something worth celebrating. Translation memory helps translators work faster and more efficiently. Not only does this improve the work flow process for the translator, but it helps ensure the client receives high quality and accurate work in a more timely fashion. And last but certainly not least, the client can save money thanks to this productivity boosting tool. The benefits are pretty indisputable. So let’s take a deep dive into the benefits of translation memory. 

What is a translation memory?

In short, a translation memory acts as a database that can store text that was previously translated. This can include words, sentences, and even whole paragraphs of text. The translation memory breaks up these chosen areas of text into two parts. The source, and the target. The source refers to the original language of the text entered into the translation memory. The target is the translation of the original text. Together, these pairs are known as “translation units” or “TUs”. It is possible to have a translation memory for each language pair. Companies who have content translated into multiple languages would need a translation memory for each pair, such as one for German, French, or Spanish. 

How does it work?

Translation memories are a part of a larger system called a CAT (computer assisted translation) tool. This somewhat broad term generally describes software that professional translators use to increase productivity, catch mistakes, and improve consistency. CAT tools segment text that need translation and in return present the text in a way that is much simpler to translate. 

Translation memories are an important part of CAT tools. When using such a tool, a translator will start by opening the document that needs translation, also known as the source file. Then the translation memory will check to see if any of the recently uploaded content was already translated. The tool will search for any “100% matches” (identical matches) as well as any “fuzzy matches” (similar matches, but not exact). A fuzzy match occurs if there is no exact match for a term or phrase, but there are segments in the translation memory that are similar to the text that a translator is currently working on. Sometimes the difference could be as small as a single word.  

When working through a source file, translators can either accept, modify or override suggestions from the translation memory.  Human judgement is of the utmost importance. Even if a translation memory finds a translation match, the translator has to be very careful and verify the accuracy in a given context. They may have to update the translation accordingly. When a segment doesn’t have a match (this occurs if it hasn’t been translated previously), the translation memory will store the new TUs and this allows the translation memory to continue to grow and improve. 

The Benefits

Utilizing translation memories helps support the localization process. It can also help improve the quality and consistency of a translation job, as well as help complete the work faster. Working with translation memories is not the same as using machine translation (MT) tools. Unlike MT, a tool which automatically translates without human input, professional translators create translation memories. That personal touch accounts for subtleties and contextual scenarios that occur in varying languages and cultures. Both the client and translator will gain confidence and peace of mind by using translation memories throughout their translation work. This tool helps improve the consistency, quality, and speed of work. See, a win-win for everyone.